Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, January 3, 1891

     7:54 P.M. Though they told me downstairs that W. had spent a bad day, I found in talking to him that, as he said, his supper had "built" him "up," and that he was now reasonably comfortable and cheery. No word to either of us from Bucke today. Believed Bucke would "easily come around all right from his accident," because of best blood well-kept, and wise in his trade. "How much larger percent of the poor boys in the hospitals would have been saved had they had immediate care—at-once

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care—the right service in the instant of its need! But they were sacrificed—sacrificed—thousands of them!"
Remarked that he had never had acknowledgment of portraits from Ingersoll. "But I will hear in some way: no doubt they reached their person," though Bob himself had the touch of chaos he saw in Whitman, and was more the worse for it. I read into Bucke's "Whitman" last night. Surprised after all how little biographical detail is there. W. said, "I can easily see that that struck you: and you know enough yourself to better it. But the fact is, the Doctor didn't have the details to put in—they were not available. And we know, too, that it is no easy thing to make up a consecutive story even if the details are perfect. Few can do it."

     I thought W. had written no nonsense pages. Every minor writer has plenty of them. Here is a point of demarcation. W. asked, "You say that? and even of the Appendix—having that in mind? the early pieces?" I replied, "Yes, even that. Why, one of the poems in the Appendix is good enough to go anywhere in 'Leaves of Grass.'" He smiled. "You mean 'Blood Money'? I think so too, indeed, I don't know why it is not there—in big type—along with the rest of the poems. I like it too."

     If he wishes to give me something for myself or others, he always asks, "Where are you going from here?" and finding I am going home, will give me what he designed. Asked tonight, then got up and went across the room. "I came across some of the Critic portraits today. You told me you had none. It was a portrait supplement—years ago—and what you see below there—reproduced from my own hand—out of 'Leaves of Grass'—was written at the request of Jennie Gilder." Told him I had seen (after he referred to it last evening) the Kenyon Cox portrait of St.-Gaudens. W. said, "It seems quite bold: seems made by a man who has seen Millet—been touched by the influence—perhaps not consciously at all." And how much of that was in the air! With priests and writers who would have declared themselves unchanged. Had laid out morocco "Leaves of Grass." Forgot to take it last night: sold.


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